by Claire Lukens
I recently went through a breakup. That phrase feels apt, went through a breakup, even though I initiated it – as if it was something that was done to me, an ordeal to be endured. Something from which I emerge on the other side.
The end of the relationship had been a long time coming. Then, finally, we had a weekend in which we connected hardly at all, tiptoeing around what neither of us wanted to be the first to say, and which left me feeling unwanted. There’s no way around it. Unwanted–the thing that I could not endure or explain away, the thing that left me feeling broken.
So we had perhaps the easiest breakup conversation I have ever had. He expressed fear at losing some of our mutual friends, of hurt propagating through our social circle in this tiny town. But I am not worried about that. I am not hurt by any wrongdoing, on his part or mine, only by the fact that we simply didn’t have the passion necessary to carry us through hard times.
I am relieved not to feel stuck, to know that I was missing something but lacking the guts to go look for it. (Cue the cheesy quote: Life’s too short to waste it with people that don’t make you happy.) But I am also left with a hole, a place where comfort and acceptance could be found. I am spending more time alone at home, drinking wine with my dog cuddled up against me.
And, perhaps because I am an introvert, my first instinct to feeling lonely – to feeling wounded, undervalued, unwanted – is to hole up in myself, to find a safe place to curl up, where I don’t need anyone else to make me feel okay. Recognizing that I really need some support, I call a friend and leave a voicemail. Hey, just calling to tell you that I love you and say hi . . . gimme a call when you get a chance. . . . I don’t want to impose my sadness on my friends, so I don’t tell them I need them until they call back several days later and I erupt into tears. So I’m working on reaching out when I need support, asking for hugs and tea and hangout time. Leaving voicemails that say, Hey, I need you. Recognizing that my introverted tendencies do not exempt me from needing to feel wanted, worthy, loved.
I am also coming to terms with the rising fear that comes with dating in your 30s, the little voice that says “If I give up on this guy, am I giving up my chance to have kids?” Part of me knows that this is ridiculous, that I have time, that I have options.
That I need to be in love with the father of my children. And not just comfortable love, but whole-body-and-soul love, with-my-entire-being love. It’s easy to wonder if that love is out there for me, if I have missed my shot somewhere along the way.
I expressed this thought to one of my besties recently, and she looked at me dumb-founded. She reminded me of my own words to her a few months earlier, when she was feeling similarly alone. I had told her how, in the core of my being, I knew that she had a big love out there waiting for her. And it’s true, I do – she’s a truly amazing woman, and there’s simply no question in my mind that she’ll make someone over-the-moon grateful to be with her.
“You know that feeling, that confidence?” she told me. “I feel exactly the same way about you.”
I don’t know why it’s so hard to hold that confidence for myself. But it’s easier knowing that she’s holding it for me.